“I’ma show you how to turn it up a notch/
First you get a swimming pool full of liquor, then you dive in it…
Pool full of liquor, then you dive in it.
I wave a few bottles, then I watch em all flock/
All the girls wanna play Baywatch.
I got a swimming pool full of liquor and they dive in it…
Pool full of liquor I’ma dive in it…” — Kendrick Lamar, “Swimming Pools (Drank)”
Swimming pools. Gatherings of people. Often, spirituous libations — commonly known as “drank”. Usually, an exercise of moderation.
In yesterday’s post, I mentioned how we can “follow the breadcrumbs” of our youth to see how it has affected our personal style of imbibing — what, where, and how we drink, or even if we don’t. How we internalized the behavior of others while they were imbibing may help or hinder our relationship with the bottle. It depends on the past experiences. One friend of mine used to have an aunt that would give him a bit of her own homebrew when his mother would visit — he now owns a wonderful drinking place in Cincinnati, enjoyed by many people around town. Another friend once saw a man fall down a set of stairs while intoxicated — he has not taken a drink in any of his adult years.
Kendrick Lamar, the young upstart from Compton, puts forth his perspective in the song, “Swimming Pools (Drank)”, and sides toward moderation. Perhaps if Carrie Nation had been able to ride a beat like Kendrick, she would have held greater sway in her time.
To all friends on travel to Oktoberfest…
Have a time of your lives, an experience you can tell your little ones about someday, while sharing a tall frosty mug of your favorite lager…
Enjoy all while you’re there, and drink more than your share…
And soak up every tidbit of culture while you’re drinking…it’s not just an exercise, but the means to an end — and a beginning!
[Photos by ME]
[Photos by ME]
“Shut down your operation, closed for business/
Leave a foul taste in your mouth, like Guinness…” — Mobb Deep, “Hell on Earth”
You don’t have to be a fan of Bar Rescue to know that countless drinking places close every day…gone forever, lost to the memories of the former patrons. While there is a range of emotions that set in upon the closing — disappointment, heartache, happiness to some, anger to others — it eventually dissipates as we find another bar stool with our name on it at another establishment. Is that all it takes — on to the next one? What does the literal “Last Call” mean to the built and social fabric of our communities?
What does it mean to the patron? To the common visitor or urban transplant, it’s a lost opportunity to make a new acquaintance, learn something unexpected about their new surroundings, or see that new culture “in action”. This may not resonate with residents, as they may not give the same value to certain places that have “been there forever”. However, it’s a problem for them as well — the next time they want to show a visiting friend what their city is truly like, it may look the same as every other city in FranchiseTown, USA. What made that particular city unique passed on right under their noses, as they didn’t lift a finger to try and prevent it.
Let’s discuss the perspective of the changing city. When all this urban energy and social activity is gone, doesn’t it make our cities feel a bit dormant, just a little empty? Maybe lacking for that excitement and experience that you go home and tell someone about, or are able to pass along in recollection to a friend in a fond retelling? Every urban environment may not be like Vine Street in late 19th-century Cincinnati, which had 136 drinking places along its downtown stretch in 1890. That speaks to a certain culture of industry that sustains that level of activity — an industry long gone, with only physical remnants still visible.
Finally, the industry. One truism espoused by Bernard DeVoto was, “The surest proof of the moral foundation of the universe is that you can always find good whiskey if you will go looking for it.” If one places closes, we can surely find another place willing to suit our tastes of fine cocktailing. However, what does that do to the local industry? In these tough times, it’s not easy to just set up shop somewhere. In simple terms, it’s hard out here for a publican. Small business loans, identifying and reaching a target user group, sustaining sales to woo continued supply — it takes more than just pouring a pony of spicy brown into a glass.
So, friends, in the words of Sean Connery, what are we prepared to do? The answer — realize that we can’t do it all ourselves. We must join together to keep our cities alive. About to enjoy that bottle of sweet brown you picked up the other week? Call over your buddy you haven’t spoken to in a month of Sundays to help you, so he knows what to look for upon his next visit to a drinking place. Stopping off for a quick cocktail with your main damie before a snazzy event? Have her girlfriends join you, and soak in their comments on how impeccably detailed a combination your suit and cufflinks make. Had an unexpectedly-informing exchange with the bartender at that corner spot, where you went for a “one and done”? Tell a couple people about it and send some business their way. The city will always be there, but it’s up to us to live in it.
This research discusses how changes to the urban environment has affected the “city center” not actually being the center of the city. We can begin the conversation here, discussing what the “shape” of the city is, and how that allows for connecting people to activity via the interconnections of buildings to sites to neighborhoods. Traditional ways of reading and navigating the city have been altered, due to the ebb and flow of the city and its suburbs, where people choose to work, and where development takes place. When you conceptualize a “city center” or “downtown” where a lot of urban activity is occurring, is that really in the center of the city?
How do you find out what is going on in your city — what does “happening” mean to you and what does it look like? We can continue the discussion by analyzing how the buildings help us find this urban activity; how it contains it, displays it, and leads us to it. Do you happen upon gatherings of people at an establishment, seeking to find a friend and leave the “lonely planet” behind you? Do you feel that the city still caters to smaller, more focused gatherings of people, allowing visitors to engage those groups to find out more regarding the city’s culture, so they can begin to move and shake along with the movers and the shakers? Are you intrigued by the new urban playgrounds of “destination developments”, that open the city up to residents and travelers both near and far?
Traditional means and avenues for design resulted in allowing energy to sift through different layers of the building, avoiding a stark inside/outside relationship. People could congregate directly at the front, or at the side in an exterior garden space, creating “overlapping social networks” that connected to passersby and sidewalk activity. In lieu of traditional means, what is left for the one who seeketh urban energy? Is social media the tie that binds those with common goals and similar perspectives, though separated by miles, subdivisions, and condo boards? Or can you still successfully find a slot to input your two cents on the future path of the city, and help tie into the social fabric? Good luck if you do; we all must keep striving. At times, it seems like there ain’t no love in the heart of the city.
“A Blind Pig (or Blind Tiger) was, more or less, a juke joint equivalent to a speakeasy. The building the Blind Pig was located in would have a false front; a business, storage, or simply boards over the windows in order to keep the illegal establishment hidden. those that knew the right people or password could gain access to the joint. Often Blind Pigs would have live music, gambling, moonshine and other alcohols.” — bluescentric
“A bit of Bix history lives on in downtown Cincinnati at the venerable Arnold’s Bar & Grill (established 1859)…I learned that there was no live music at Arnold’s during this era, but that when Prohibition hit, the establishment abandoned its public saloon role and became a restaurant. Its presence as an after-hours speakeasy is easy to establish, however, as one of Arnold’s well-known artifacts is their second-floor bathtub, used for bathtub gin, which is still on display, sometimes in the outdoor dining area and sometimes in local parades. So although Bix couldn’t have jammed at Arnold’s, he very well may have partaken of the product of that vintage bathtub.” — Bix Lives at Cincy’s Arnold’s Bar & Grill
This research discusses the redevelopment of historic urban districts, offering analysis of change at the scale of a neighborhood. Neighborhoods are flexible in terms of city scale — macro-attributes such as socio-economic and changing demographic issues, as well as micro-attributes such as interpersonal relationships and signs & symbols on buildings. Opportunities for redevelopment can touch upon many of these issues as themes, tying together the neighborhood in a way that reflects its past and creates a responsible and promising trajectory for the future.
Contemporary breweries and microbreweries tend to be isolated from the built and social fabric of urban neighborhoods — either located in unadorned, industrial areas or totally unrelated to other services in the vicinity. Historically, breweries were large-scale operations, sustaining the economy of large swaths of a region and creating a need for services that extended down to the neighborhood level. Breweries were connected to local craftsmen for construction and engineering services, to local drinking places for patronage of their products, and to personal customs of the workers and their families. The overarching drinking culture contains objects for architectural commentary and metaphor, which are especially promising for success in redevelopment of historic urban districts, as shown above: historic buildings that reflect the “urban narrative” that future development should follow, building symbols and imagery that reflects cultural ideals, and looking to create a synergy between current professional opportunities and previous crafts & occupations that used to sustain the neighborhood.
A successful example of an urban redevelopment that brought all these attributes together is the Distillery District in Toronto, which successfully maintained the heritage of the area and its inhabitants, creating responsible development with smart and compatible uses.
[Research by ME]
Life has a way of coming around full circle.
I try to keep a separation between church and state when it comes to bringing my “personal life” into my blog; at the very least, make somewhat hazy connections that can be illuminated with a little thought. It would be much too much to showcase my rockstar life to the Tumblrsphere. But sometimes, things happen to make me say, “Ehhhh, what the h-e-double-hockey-sticks.”
So yesterday, I had a Tweetscussion about scotch with a couple friends. Broached a few brands, went around the realm of brown a bit — touched on ryes, bourbons, and even cognac. I’d also looked at old texts I’d written upon some Friday visits to Nicholson’s, a Scottish pub in Cincinnati, where I tried to keep track of the scotches I’d tasted, and ones I’d tried to taste. In addition, I’d received a text from a good friend asking me about Macallan — any friend is a good friend that texts you about scotch. I offered a bit of my background with the brand, as I went to a tasting seminar last year for it. I also told him, as he is a cognac drinker, that he might appreciate the mouthfeel that Glenmorangie has with its three scotches that are finished in wine barrels, a bit smoother and silkier than your normal scotch.
And today, as I’m thinking about something to blog about, I come across this article about the ten things every man should know about scotch. Hmmmm, there might be a chance I know one or two. Enjoy and #getcongenial.
The 5-story historic American Brewery, topped by three irregular pagoda-like towers, was built in 1887 as the Wiessner Brewery and was occupied by The American Brewery from the 1930s until 1973. Since then the building has been empty, towering over East Baltimore. The structure has been rehabilitated for use as the new headquarters of Humanim, a social services non-profit organization. The project used state and federal historic tax credits, new market tax credits and other community development grants. — Cho Benn Holback + Associates website
Large-scale brewing was prevalent in the development of many cities, with locations like Cincinnati having a very active brewing history during the 18th and 19th centuries. But looking at a calendar will show that it is no longer 1870 — what are we to do with these monolithic houses of hops? I’ve asked this question for Philadelphia, and have shown propositions to produce movement and activity around them in Cincinnati, but Baltimore looks like it’s really created something notable here. No matter how much you love your favorite craft beer producer, the company isn’t working at the same scale of economy that Christian Moerlein was in the heyday of the “German Triangle”. Is the answer to bring in unrelated private sector companies or non-profits? Or is that akin to letting the rooster in the henhouse and waving a white flag to teetotalers, in effect giving Carrie Nation a prime seat at your bar? Is this the wave of the future — how can we keep the spirits in the building? Maybe we should pray on it.
This research discusses how the cultural appearance of buildings helps to steer people’s perceptions of an area — determining whether or not they’ll frequent that establishment, that street, that neighborhood, and so on. This is especially important when considering a person that doesn’t have background history of that environment, such as a transplant, tourist, or other “outsider” in that situation. The buildings above are all located in Cincinnati: a jazz speakeasy, an “English pub”, a historic saloon revived for a festival, a historic cafe that was recently closed, and a new restaurant/bar located in the downtown area.
The building’s appearance played a large part in determining and evaluating the culture of each of these environments. How would a person know that a warm, jazz-filled room was right in the heart of a downtrodden, culturally-disenfranchised community — especially when two green lights at the doorway were the only signal of activity? If an award-winning restaurateur opens an establishment that appears to be a nightclub to many prospective patrons, how would that affect their engagement of the establishment — help or hinder? If a 19th/20th-century era cafe falls in the city, does it make a sound, if no one with any ties to the heritage is around to hear it?
This research led to formalize responsive, and responsible, mechanisms of design and redesign. This approach would seek to resolve the disconnect between appearance and experience that these buildings exemplified.
[Research by ME]
What this young lady’s hand is reaching towards is a better option than what is usually offered to pass for a common mixer — ginger ale. Ginger ale is a standard mixer in many highball cocktails, such as a Horse’s Neck or a Presbyterian, and is produced by numerous brands all over the world. But what to do if your favorite watering hole has no ginger ale?
Before I came to the drinking place above, the historic Art Deco environment of the Palm Court Bar in the Hilton Netherlands Hotel in Cincinnati, I had to fight off bartenders trying to pass off a fake version of ginger ale: a mixture of Coke and Sprite. What in the world makes people think that Coke and Sprite will get you close to ginger ale? Appearance isn’t everything — just because it’s a light shade of brown like ginger ale, the taste isn’t anything similar. It seems somewhat unprofessional to use this mix in cocktails WITHOUT telling the consumer.
So when I asked for a bourbon ginger at the Palm Court — the same drink my namesake uncle drank 50 years ago — the bartender showed wonderful professionalism, while giving me a little tidbit of mixology knowledge. The establishment didn’t have any ginger ale left at that time of night, but he told me that a tasteful replacement is a mixture of Sprite and bitters. While not ginger ale, it’ll offer you a mixer with less sweetness to the taste than Coke and Sprite, but more flavor than just using tonic, provided from the bitters. I’ve never looked back — whenever I need a fill-in mixer, I bring in the Mariano Rivera of mixers for my highball!
“With the help of national radio, the barely known new jazz sound spread quickly over America, and found many supporters. Lots of important clubs, or speakeasies (illegal pubs), helped jazz bands to get famous and featured their songs. Jazz often got connected with alcohol, intimate dancing and ‘other socially questionable activities.’” — http://www.ovtg.de/3_arbeit/englisch/gatsby/jazz_age.html
Cheers to Schwartz’s Point — the modern combination of jazz + speakeasy. I remember asking Ed once, “What’s the quintessential drink for a jazz club?” His reply: red wine. Do you concur? Do the dry notes of a merlot offset the high notes of a jazz soprano? Does the sweet punch of port reflect the staccato notes of the piano man?
[Photo by ME]
“The gradual emergence of the saloon as a leisure space clearly distinct from home thus gave workers a more comfortable and appealing place to spend their leisure time. While some women continued to patronize saloons, these public leisure spaces increasingly became male preserves. In this way, the male saloon became a mirror image of the male factory.” - - Eight Hours for What We Will: Workers and Leisure in an Industrial City, 1870-1920, by Roy Rosenzweig
As I type this, it is officially, August 5 — International Beer Day. As I type this, I am officially NOT a beer drinker — ay, there’s the rub! Soooooo, to enable me to keep a predetermined post in the stash until next week, I’ll blog about something regarding the glorious fermented beverage that so many people are enjoying today.
Cincinnati, as one leg of the historical triumvirate that was the German Triangle, has a proud brewing history. The brewing present, however, is being furthered by the Over-the-Rhine Brewery District that has many stakeholders working to keep the history in the forefront of residents and visitors to the area. A few years ago, while thesisizing, I took part in a design charette for redevelopment ideas.
My group focused upon one particular site in the Brewery District, that had access to underground tunnels. The access at this particular site was located directly off the rear, literally creating a ramp down into the tunnels. These tunnels were built for a proposed subway system that was never completed, apparently because the tunnels were built too small. Anyways, a former professor said that designers in the city tend to “fetishize” about the tunnels: tell architects about unused space and we go crazy finding ways to activate it!
Yours truly proposed utilizing the tunnels for bike trails, and creating program space focused towards cycling and associated uses. The space would literally be a “pop-up shop” as it would offer a view to the main street of its activities, in addition to the vertical nature of the spatial connection.
It woulda been sooooo purrrrty :)
Philadelphia has the distinction of being the first place in this country where lager beer was brewed. It was brewed by George Manger in 1846, on New Street below Second. It was dispensed at Wolff’s saloon, Dilwyn Street below Callowhill.
While an employee at the Haas and Wolf sugar refinery, Manger convinced his boss, Charles Wolf, and fellow employee Charles Engel to brew lager for private consumption in the sugar plant. Manger then established his own brewery on New Street.
The brewing history of cities from the “German Triangle” — Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Milwaukee — hangs heavy over the regeneration of their urban cores. The shells of the historic breweries remain, akin to huge, masonry headstones. Has Philadelphia resolved the fate of its historic breweries, working them into the built and social fabric of its contemporary culture?
This research/diagram is about “convivial urban spaces.” In making connections to the conviviality of drinking places, I wanted to show where similar opportunities take place within urban environments, specifically in this particular area of Cincinnati. (What area is it?) Around this site in particular, similar to many residential/mixed use areas, people tend to congregate on street corners, steps, doorways, building portals/gangways, etc. By showing photos of people actually congregating around this site, I was showing my precedent to create the same comfort that made this area convivial for them, which would guide the design of the new spaces.
[Design/Research by ME — see book link for quotations]